Biden ‘guarantees’ US backs NATO in Finland, but Trump shadow lingers

HELSINKI: President Joe Biden on Thursday (Jul 13) gave his assurance that the United States would stay committed to NATO despite “extreme elements” of the Republican Party, in remarks during a visit to Finland to welcome it as the alliance’s latest member.

“I absolutely guarantee it,” Biden told a press conference when pressed by a Finnish reporter about the US commitment to NATO given political instability in the United States. Biden’s predecessor, Republican former President Donald Trump, threatened to take the United States out of the alliance.

“No one can guarantee the future, but this is the best bet anyone could make,” Biden said. Biden, a Democrat, is running for re-election in 2024 and Trump is the front-runner for Republicans.

Concern lingers in Europe about the reliability of US pledges and global alliances, years after Trump’s norm-busting presidency ended. Trump clashed with NATO leaders over funding the alliance and threatened to reduce the number of US troops in Germany.

Biden said there was overwhelming support for NATO from the American people, from Congress and from both Democrats and Republicans, “notwithstanding the fact there’s some extreme elements of one party”, referring to Republicans.

“I’m saying as sure as anything could possibly be said about American foreign policy, we will stay connected to NATO,” Biden continued, showing a flash of irritation.

Biden’s visit comes almost exactly five years after Trump struck a conciliatory tone with Russian President Vladimir Putin at talks in Helsinki.

Biden was in the city to participate in a summit with the leaders of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Norway. He came directly from this week’s NATO summit held in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had only made the alliance stronger.

Biden said NATO had officially elevated its relationship with Ukraine and created a pathway for its membership “as it continues to make progress on the necessary democratic and security reforms required of every NATO member.”

Ukraine could not join the alliance in the middle of a war, he said.

“It’s not about whether they should or shouldn’t join, it’s about when they can join. And they will join NATO,” he said of Ukraine.

Biden said Putin had “already lost the war”, as there was no possibility of Russia winning.

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